Tiger Woods, who last year won for the eighth time at Firestone Country Club, will play that venue’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational later this month as well as the PGA Championship at Valhalla in August, the former world No. 1 announced on his website on Wednesday.
Woods is making his second post-back surgery start this week at the British Open and, win or lose at Royal Liverpool, he needs competitive reps as well as strong finishes if he hopes to make the FedExCup playoffs and/or the Ryder Cup. There’s also the little matter of getting "match ready" for the final major of the season for the 14-time major champion who last won a grand slam event in 2008.
Even with the Open Championship looming immediately on a course he conquered for his 11th major title in 2006 and the PGA coming up on another track on which he has performed well (he won the event in 2000), Woods made it clear on Tuesday that he wanted in on the wallet-lining FEC series as well as playing for his country.
"The way the [FedExCup] point structure is, you can make up ground pretty quickly, with some wins," Woods, who is currently ranked 212 in the playoff standings, told reporters ahead of the Open Championship.
Woods, with just four less-than-stellar starts on his resume this season, thanks to his back injury and subsequent surgery, needs to make up ground if he hopes to have a tee time at The Barclays, the first leg of the four-game series. If he gets in, Woods said he was confident he could play deep into the playoffs.
"If I get in the playoffs and anytime you're in the playoffs," said Woods, who missed the tourneys in 2008 and 2011, "you just win one event and you come out of nowhere to the top five very quickly."
As for the Ryder Cup, Woods, at No. 72, is well outside the cut line for the nine automatic spots on Tom Watson’s U.S. squad, but hoped to earn a position via one of the captain’s wild-card picks.
"Being a part of the Ryder Cup teams over the years, it's special," said Woods, who skipped just one Ryder Cup session (his injury-riddled 2008) since 1997 and whose words contrast with the widely held view that he is no team player.
"You build these amazing bonds and friendships and camaraderie that lasts for life times," Woods said. "I've been able to be on the teams with basically Phil [Mickelson] and Jim [Furyk] for the better part of 17 years or so. Hopefully I can do it again."
Watson has said he would keep a close eye on Woods’ progress and hoped to chat with him sometime during British Open week. As of Tuesday, the two, not exactly the best of pals, had not crossed paths.
"I haven’t talked to Tom, no," Woods said.